Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 12:37 UK

UK university lectures on iTunes

Lectures can be downloaded from an academic iTunes service

University College London, the Open University and Trinity College Dublin are putting lectures onto iTunes.

Educational content is already available in the United States through the non-charging "iTunes U" section of the music downloading service.

But European universities are now joining, providing video and audio material for students to use on iPods or computers.

The service will include recordings of lectures from leading academics.

"Our students will be able to revisit materials presented to them in lectures, so they can learn anywhere and anytime," says Professor Peter Mobbs at University College London (UCL).

Lecture on demand

The initial offerings from UCL will include material about neuroscience, the university's "lunch time lectures" and an audio news round-up.

The Open University is promising to make available 300 audio and video files with material from current courses.

Trinity College Dublin is promising lectures from journalist Seymour Hersh, scientist Robert Winston, author Anita Desai and politician Alex Salmond.

This will be available from iTunes U, launched by Apple computers last summer as a free education area within the iTunes online music and video store.

It is intended to make lectures available to students at the institutions and to a wider public audience.

This has been used by leading US universities to provide lectures and research news, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UC Berkeley and MIT.

Many universities in the UK have been making their own podcasts of lectures, but this will be the first time they have been distributed on the iconic iTunes service.

Open University vice-chancellor Brenda Gourley said it was an exciting new opportunity for anyone, anywhere in the world to gain easy access to its courses.

"Our aim is to partner our established distance learning expertise with the power of the internet to provide as mobile, flexible and personalised learning as possible, whatever your current educational level, personal circumstances or technological abilities."

A recent market survey showed that four billion songs have been sold through the service since it launched five years ago, making it the biggest music retailer in the United States.

The iTunes service gained its dominant position in online music as the downloading service for the iPod player.

A spokesperson for University College London said that the service would appeal to "techno-literate students" and "reach new audiences around the world".

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